Home Again and End of Year Musings

Home Again and End of Year Musings

Climbing the rocks at low tide, White Horse Beach, Plymouth
Sunset on White Horse Beach

So much has happened since I last wrote in this space. I’ve been meaning to write and meaning to write, so much to say! But life keeps getting in the way and while writing often doesn’t feel like work in good times, when things are hard I remember that it is work and that it takes time and energy.

We had a beautiful six weeks in Plymouth. While there we walked to the beach almost every day. We explored. We luxuriated in a beautiful house.

Sunset at White Horse Beach
Magic Hour at White Horse Beach
Sunset in Plymouth, this was the storage shed at the rental house

We also endured a record-setting Nor’easter that knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of people. It was quite something. Hurricane-force winds that shook the house. Being in a storm like that right near the shore was intense. I’ve been through a bunch of nor’easters, but nothing remotely like that. The power went out in the night and I ended up going to the living room and staring at the window there until I fell asleep again. We were without power for about 18 hours, which was actually really short compared to a lot of places. Some of which were out for four or five days. It was a weird dreamy-time.


White Horse Beach entrance. Storm clouds rising, the nor’easter is coming.
After the big storm. Dunes washed away, fencing gone.
After the big storm. All the fencing which washed away.
After the storm, White Horse Beach.

There were lots of downed trees everywhere and when we took a walk down to the beach after the storm it was amazing. The storm had totally stripped away the fence from in front of the dunes and washed all the broken bits of fencing into the beach access walkway. It also washed away a good ten feet of the dunes. It filled in the little stream completely. And we watched a digger excavate the stream again two days after the storm. It was fun to see the effects of erosion and watch the stream carve a new bed for itself. There were new sandbars where the sand from the dunes had resettled. And we found a dead gannet half buried in the access walkway and a dead harbor seal carcass washed up near the seawall. We also found a cormorant skeleton. We joked about how Sophie kept finding dead things. Oh yeah she also found a bunch of dead polliwogs in the stream that had little budding legs just visible under their tails.

Bella lost her phone in a sand dune and we borrowed a metal detector from the rental house and, amazingly, located the phone which I was sure was gone for good.

Leaping Lucy
A father and son throwing rocks into a tide pool on White Horse Beach
My favorite house on White Horse Beach
A cormorant on White Horse Beach

We visited the Plimouth Patuxet historical site where they have a recreation of the original 17th century English settlement and reenactors in costume talking in first person as the original settlers. There is also a recreation of a Wompanoag village with summer and winter wetus (aka wigwams) and demonstrations of cooking and making dugout canoes. The kids got to participate in a pike drill with the reenactors who played Miles Standish and other colonists. We also visited the recreation of the Mayflower, the Mayflower II. And to go along with it we read a book about the Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick, which was quite good.

Aboard the Mayflower 2
Recreated Womanoag wetu.
In a Wompanoag wetu talking to an interpreter
At the Plimouth 17th Century village
In Mile’s Standish’s house, talking to his wife while she cooked.
Pike drill.
Joining the militia in Plimouth village.
We had Halloween in Plymouth. No one went trick or treating because all the kids had a cold. But I bought a pumpkin, which we never got around to carving. I did buy candy and the kids went around the house pretending to trick or treat at the bedroom doors.

But it took forever for the plumbers to do their work and we ran out of time on our lovely Plymouth rental. We had to move to a much less nice rental house in Brockton, where we spent Thanksgiving week. That house was bare and without decoration, if felt hostile and loveless and lifeless. I’ve never stayed in a place I hated more. Then after that we were glad to go back to beach-front living in a lovely rental house in Hull, just a block away from Nantasket Beach. Despite the often bitter cold of early December, we explored that beach and collected heaps of quahog and mussel shells and made more memories.

Thanksgiving at my brother-in-law’s house. A wonderful taste of normal during a season of upheaval.
Our house in Hull had a Little Free Library right outside, and we could see the dunes just a block away.
The girls loved their room in Hull. Out came all the Star Wars action figures.
Hijinks in Hull. The kids found silly glasses in a drawer in the kitchen.
The entrances to Nantasket Beach were all filled in with sand so that we had to climb over a dune to get to the beach.
Lucia on Nantasket Beach.
The kids pretending to be weathermen pretending to resist strong winds.
Lacking our Advent wreath and candles, we made do for the first Sunday of Advent. I found some candles a the local grocery and we constructed a wreath with yew branches, seaweed and shells. It was humble but rather eye-catching.
Beautiful Nantasket Beach sunset.
Bella watercoloring in Hull
Bella on Nantasket Beach

Then, the contractor still not being done, we spent a couple more nights in a hotel. Ugh. And finally on St Nicholas Day, after receiving chocolates and wool socks in their shoes, even though we were in a hotel, we got the best present of all and moved back home. The house was a mess. For the first few days the toilet was hooked up but not the shower or bathroom sink. The kitchen was under a thick blanket of sawdust and plaster dust and grease and everything had to be washed and scrubbed. We had to clear the dining room table to eat. The contractor still had to paint and install baseboards, so we couldn’t fully unpack right away, but we were still thrilled to be home.

Sophie admires the new floor in the living room.
Our work was cut out for us. The kitchen was a huge mess.
Teens who help to clean the kitchen are awesome.
Our potatoes grew a forest while we were gone.

Unpacking and cleaning has been a very slow process. We hung Christmas lights and garland despite the mess and made room among the boxes for a Christmas tree which we decorated on Dec 23, not the latest we’ve ever put up the tree, but cutting it close. I paused from unpacking to do a lot of Christmas baking, making fudge and gingerbread and fruitcake and challah. We had a Christmas ham from a gift box of food, then our Christmas Eve fish feast and then lasagna for Christmas dinner. Dom and some of the kids made it to midnight Mass, but I stayed home with a child who was too keyed up about missing sleep, so I did the Christmas morning Mass and then took a nap after Christmas dinner instead of going to the in-laws for a Christmas party. Instead I watched All Creatures Great and Small and enjoyed the gift of having a quiet house to myself.

Lucy loves her new loft bed.
The girls’ room, decorated.
Chilling out with library books.
Lucy shows the Christmas tree to Grogu.
Christmas fun among the packing boxes
Anthony is very happy with his Lego set.

In the week after Christmas I’ve continued to declutter and unpack and catch up on laundry– all the linens and clothes that were clean in the laundry room had to be re-washed as did all the dishes and cookware on the shelves.  We are still unpacking books. And those need to be decluttered and organized as well.

We are looking to getting back to regular schoolwork soon. School became very spotty in the last two months and it’s going to be work to reestablish a routine. I’m so very glad to be home again, but it still doesn’t quite feel like normal life has resumed yet. It’s still in an in-between place. In many ways the house is much much better: new floors, new paint in all the rooms, new bathroom (floor, vanity, shower, everything because there was so much mold and water damage in the bathroom after a very long time of a slow leak under the floor.) But it’s also still a work in progress. I’m slowing getting new curtains and new bed clothes and new floor rugs and we still have to hang pictures.

We had one final trial and tribulation. In the final week of the year Ben got sick and then Bella. And then one by one Lucy and Anthony and Sophie and finally Dom and me. It looked like a cold, sore throat, drippy nose. Ben got a cough, Bella had muscle aches and tightness of breath. Finally on New Years Day I used a precious rapid test I’d managed to snag at the pharmacy the week before and tested Bella. The test was positive so my working assumption is that we all had covid, probably Ben picked it up at a Christmas party or at Midnight Mass. Bella said things started tasting funny and Dom lost his sense of smell and taste for a couple of days. Lucy and Anthony and I probably had the mildest symptoms. I felt like I had a very mild cold, just sore throat, some congestion and a little tiredness. But not so tired that I felt a need to stay in bed for a day, just one evening of letting Dom cook dinner while I dozed.

Now we are all feeling better and went on a lovely hike in the woods. to enjoy Friday’s foot of snow.

So hopefully this week we will be getting back to school and continuing to unpack and settling into something like normal life once again. I’m hoping to write up a post about my favorite books of 2021 and I hope I’ll be better at blogging in this space, but I know better than to make plans or promises.

Photo taken Dec 26 because we didn’t all make it to Midnight Mass on Christmas



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